Year 4 discover the work of Pierre Bonnard at Tate Modern

Year 4 arrived at Tate Modern on a chilly morning in March. People were already queuing to enter the museum which only made us worry that we would once again have to make our way through a packed gallery. Little did we know…

The morning brought us peaceful sketching and space to gather our thoughts about French artist, Pierre Bonnard. Not many art enthusiasts are familiar with his work but his style has been heavily debated over. His contemporaries, Matisse and Picasso, often disagreed when talking about Bonnard. The Guardian’s chief art critic Adrian Searle thinks he was ‘monumental, monstrous –and rubbish at dogs’. But what do our Year 4 boys think?

We looked at the work on display with a critical eye. We discussed his use of colour and the manner in which he built his compositions. The word ‘colourful’ seemed to dominate our conversations. Miss Raduca approached the topic of ‘domestic atmosphere’ and the tools Bonnard used to make the viewer feel like an outsider. We also debated the artist’s ability to draw. Madame Lad did not think drawing was his strongest skill but she did enjoy the explosion of colour.

It is very hard to put a label on Bonnard. He longed for Impressionist brushstrokes in a time when artists like Braque and Picasso were over Post-Impressionism giving birth to Cubism. He was painting from memory, working form out in an almost obsessive manner. Some might say that’s because he was not skilful enough to capture form. Maybe that’s the reason why some paintings took more than eight years to complete. Or maybe, he was just trying to repaint his memories, to renegotiate the ‘domestic atmosphere’ that seems to have been his main subject manner.